Israeli police officers stand guard on the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem's Old City.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Following rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, the IDF announced on Wednesday that it was canceling 500 entry permits that would allow Palestinians from the coastal enclave to pray at al-Aksa Mosque during the month of Ramadan.
The coordinator of government activity in the territories (COGAT), Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, told the Palestinian Maan news agency on Wednesday that the visits had been canceled because “the security conditions around the crossing aren’t stable.”
The decision came after a rocket fired from Gaza on Tuesday evening landed in an open area near Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, near the Gaza border.
The attack set off the Color Red siren, causing the residents of southern towns near the border to run for bomb shelters and secure areas.
No casualties or damage were reported.
The attack follows several similar ones from Gaza in the past month that are believed to have been fired by rivals of Hamas. However, Israel has said it holds Hamas responsible for all attacks originating in Gaza.
“Hamas is responsible for depriving worshipers of prayer in al-Aksa Mosque during Ramadan,” Mordechai told Maan. “I am not saying that Hamas fired the missile, but Hamas is responsible because it controls the Gaza Strip.”
In response to the rocket attack, the IDF said, an IAF air strike early Wednesday morning hit the rocket launcher in northern Gaza that fired the projectile.
Following the announcement about the permits, Jerusalem city councilman Meir Margalit (Meretz), who holds the east Jerusalem portfolio, said the government was unfairly punishing the wrong people.
“What’s going on in Gaza is something so dramatic,” he said. “People don’t have any hope for even minimal life conditions, so once in their lives they can come to Jerusalem to pray at al-Aksa Mosque, and we know the people who launched the rockets had nothing to do with them.”
He declared that “this is part of a long tradition in our country to collectively punish the wrong people. It is not just, or moral.”
On June 17, in an overture of goodwill to improve Palestinians’ overall quality of life, the IDF announced that it would ease travel restrictions during Ramadan for hundreds of Muslims living in the West Bank and Gaza.
The sweeping provisions included the approval of permits for 800 Gaza residents to visit the Temple Mount, and for 500 families from the area to visit residents of the West Bank. The measures also extended hours of operation at border crossings.
Moreover, 300 Palestinians living abroad were approved to visit relatives living in the Gaza Strip.
It remains unclear whether any of the IDF’s other agreements will be rescinded, and if so, to what extent.